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Blovski

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About Blovski

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  1. While I'm sure everything to be said has been said already, I'll throw my hat into the ring: A) multiclass. Pretty sure it's basically impossible to balance spellcaster multis around 28 spells per rest. B) The vancian system didn't really sit well with POE's discrete combat encounters. In BG2 your spells have varying durations outside combat and you need specific spells prepared for specific things. Invisibility/Stoneskin/Strength have huge durations outside combat, summons can be pre-cast, you have raise dead spells so it's not the end of the world if a character dies on you, you're often balancing your damage spells against having something like Knock available. In POE because your spells aren't specifically prepared and are all in-combat only it doesn't really make so much sense. Also there are basically no limitations for item availability. C) non-caster per rest options were fairly awful because you were deciding whether to take an ability based on whether you wanted to rest a minimum of twice per map in order to use it once per fight, which often involved laborious backtracking. I don't think this was a problem for wizards or druids because you have twenty six other spells per day you can use but for Rogues it meant things like Finishing Blow were just a lot of work to pick and get any use out of. D) It wasn't remotely hard to go into every really tough fight in Pillars 1 with Dragon Meat Dish bonuses, a good resting bonus, fully rested & with a bunch of consumables in place. It was fairly rare that you had to actually compromise on what spells you were using due to Vancian limitations. That said, I think I liked the caster balance a little more in POE 1 but it was changed for broadly reasonable reasons and the multiclass options in particular make it wholly worthwhile. I think specific balance concerns with the Priest and Druid spell pool or Cipher resource balance are largely separate from the rest changes.
  2. I'ts not hard to see that both this forum and reddit are filled with people disappointed in the game. And Obsidian, instead of holding its ground and focusing on minor changes and bug fixing, keeps overhauling it to try to cater to everyone. Completely randomly, not by releasing big changes with e.g. a DLC or an expansion pack. This is the result, and it's something I've said elsewhere some time ago: games like these are not meant to be balanced for months after the release, because it makes their sales suffer. I'm guessing if actual sales number don't convince them, nothing will. Pillars got through this phase by being something fresh. cRPG genre was a wateland at that point and Pillars 1 filled it, so it sold pretty well despite the developer's approach. However, as you can see, you only get one chance to get away with this kind of design philosophy. All I hope for at this point is that they manage to scrape enough to get POE3 going. And that they finally create an MMO game, where they can go bonkers with all the balance they want! I think ultimately it was unrealistic that they were going to replicate the numbers of Pillars 1 by doing the same thing. The momentum from the Kickstarter campaign was not something you can replicate and the market position of being the only real new RTWP CRPG was unique. The changes have hardly been overhauls - a few outliers have been addressed, a few things that weren't nearly good enough have been improved. I really doubt that balancing the games post-release is going to harm sales in any meaningful way. It's unfortunate that the game released with the balance not having been addressed more before release. Ultimately I think Obsidian are still working out what a viable long-term business model for this kind of game looks like. Putting more focus on well-paced, traditional, compelling storytelling than metaphysics in my view is the thing that would make the biggest difference for reception.
  3. Not really. Half the time Irenicus appeared it was really just Bhaal in your dreams. I think Thaos and Irenicus encounter the party the same amount of times actually. Replaying Pillars recently, the lost art of videogame villains really stood out to me. You only actually fight Thaos once (except sorta in Brackenbury, which also the only place you talk to him at all), the Leaden Key aren't remotely threatening for you ever in the game, you only get one real interaction with him until the endgame, he doesn't really do anything much to antagonise you and he doesn't have a single named subordinate you can actually have a proxy confrontation with before the endgame. Pillars constantly makes your character assert that you need to find Thaos but there's only a vague metaphysical reason for you to do so and no real sense of progress in doing it. With Irenicus you confront him face to face in Waukeen's Promenade, you both talk to him and then actually fight him in Spellhold, the Bhaal dreams lend you some sort of constant connection to him, he has a few underlings you can crush or deal with as a proxy to give you a sense of progress in fighting him. This really is the biggest area where Pillars just falls flat in terms of pacing and narrative and I think with very little effort could have been greatly improved. I mean, Thaos should be a much more interesting villain than Sarevok, Poquelin etc but chasing Sarevok is much more compelling than chasing Thaos in my view.
  4. Have you tried The Banner Saga? Slightly different type of game but really impressive reactivity and highly recommended if you don't mind a more hardcore RPG outside the traditional style. I'm pretty ambivalent about the ME trilogy (haven't played the third one tbh; maybe I should; thought the first game was pretty 50/50, the second was a better game but an awfully weak and artificial story). Personally I think Deadfire did about as much as was practical (and frankly there is a hugely impressive amount of reactivity for a game this open) and probably a little bit more than was sensible. I think putting this reactivity stuff in is pretty problematic because once you start including it anything you don't add will seem odd and any bugs relating to it will seem like a much bigger deal than they really should be.
  5. Why I did I write this, who would read it and where the hell else would I post it? Three very good questions which are best left unanswered. My background Played through the game a few times including POTD and Ironman runs before WM1 was released. I even wrote a Ranger build guide which would basically only need GET THE LIGHTNING BOW to be added to the start, end and every intervening paragraph to be up to date. I've not played anything more than a desultory run up to Russetwood since. Vulgar details Character – Ramensky (whose approach, I'm afraid, bore no resemblance to Gentle Johnny) – Old Vailian Boreal Dwarf auto-attacking melee rogue with Noble proficiency as I've not really played a Rogue or used those weapons before. Had a lot of fun with the class. Companions – Mostly ran Zahua, Eder, GM, Durance and Kana. Played around with just about everyone, though. Sacrificed Maneha to the blood pool after doing her quest. Permanent stat boosts make monsters of us all. Approach – Chaotic Munchkin. Did literally everything, had 3-4 in just about every disposition. Did the March Steel dagger quest that I've previously regarded as beneath me. All companion quests, all bounties, all everything. Difficulty – after starting a run on Veteran as I had forgotten all the game mechanics and, being disgusted with my play and more disgusted still with the fact that I was winning, I restarted on POTD with hidden alignments/options. Started WM1 at 9 and didn't upscale, WM2 and Act 3 upscaled. Onto the substance Difficulty Curve – adding two very big expansions into the middle of a game which was already a little wonky on challenge (vanilla POE had a severe drop in difficulty once the game opens up) has not helped this. Act 3, even upscaled, is trivial at level 14-16 and much of the equipment that used to be the top-tier rewards for reaching the late-game is overshadowed by its WM counterparts. It's slightly frustrating having to basically decide for yourself which parts of the game you want to be challenging. Self-evidently not really an avoidable problem. It didn't really help that I hit the max level with almost all of WM2, WM2 bounties, 7 or so base game bounties and all of Act 3 to go. Doing it again, I'd consider an XP reduction mod. That said, I think WM2 knocks the stuffing out of Act 3 as a final challenge. POE story – the setting holds up but I'm not sure about the 'main story'. I think the halting attempts to replicate what BG1 and 2 did in instilling an illusory sense of urgency should either have been ramped up or dispensed with. The pacing, which was already the story's biggest weakness, was hamstrung even further by taking a rather large timeout to complete some huge expansions and a ton of bounties while dipping back in and out of the main game in an attempt to try and fight stuff at an appropriate level and meet the toughest encounters in the game with the most readiness. The companions, theme and setting remain stellar in my view but Thaos as an antagonist didn't really work for me. You don't confront him meaningfully before the very end of the game, you are consistently told (or, more accurately, consistently forced to claim) but never really shown that he's some sort of fundamental cause of your problems, he's not terribly interesting until his act 4 conversation and he's just naff when compared to a goddess of obliteration or a mad king building some deluded scientific monument to try and sustain his dead son. Additionally, he doesn't really have any lieutenants or supporters that you can use as indirect confrontation other than a few nameless mooks and the Leaden Key are supremely non-threatening and don't really offer any meaningful challenge after the first confrontation in the sewers. Fundamentally there were a lot of relatively low-effort ways (which, and I hate to harp on about it, BG2 did perfectly) to reinforce Thaos as a villain that weren't ever attempted in POE. I also think that for a game of this style, we should really be looking at a villain that you can, rationally and without breaking immersion, justify ignoring until you've finished everything else you want to do. Fortunately, I think the ending itself is good enough that some of these objections don't carry the weight they otherwise would. Mechanics – I'm not going into enormous depth here but I think mechanically the game has held up as an alternative to the slightly less fussy AD&D games and whatever else is out there and it continues to offer a real range of character creation options that few games have matched. It's also done really well at integrating these into the story in order to help you feel like you're having a unique character-driven experience (the Planescape-inspired way stat checks are used etc. etc.). With the White March's additions of immunities and balance changes the game is massively improved. I will say that the per-rest stuff seems fine for the spellcasters (who have 40 other spells they could cast) and items but it shouldn't be in place for the non-casters. 'That's an interesting ability for my rogue but I'd have to trek back for camping supplies if I use it once a fight so I'll take something else' is really not an internal monologue you want a player to have. There are some very welcome modern conveniences (the central hub, for which Caed Nua is really best in class) and some logical concessions to modern style (modular combat) without the huge oversimplifications that have accompanied them elsewhere as well as the reactivity that Obsidian have pioneered (Alpha Protocol 4life). I think it represents the right kind of compromise for the genre going forwards. Retraining – odd one to have as a paragraph, I admit but wanted to stress this was a very welcome convenience in a game this length; being able to drop stealth when honestly it was doing nothing for me after 50 hours or being able to switch out some per rest stuff (ick). I am painfully reminded of NWN 1 where I went for some fancy shapeshifting prestige class but didn't check the requirements, had to spec into it a level or two later and then my shapeshifting forms were basically useless at the level I was at. White March 1 (and Deadfire Pack) – new content was superb. Welcome expansions on scripted encounters, high level talents were nice, good stuff all around. New companions felt a little lightweight except for the Devil of Caroc. The soulbound weapons were a very nice touch. Some tough encounters that offered challenges that the base game didn't. I should possibly have scaled up the first part but didn't really know what to expect and, playing mostly without the big nuke NPCs, the Lagufaeth remained infuriating throughout. The Battery itself was a tad repetitive but I think that's because I should have scaled up for it. White March 2 – top notch stuff – thematically great, gorgeous environments, great story, great antagonists, fun stuff to do (sorting out Stalwart's relationship with Defiance Bay was a really nice little quest, fighting two dragons and an archmage was fun) outside of a fantastic main quest, encounters built around meaningful and varied challenges, some interesting choices, great items and really exactly the sort of high level stuff you want as a player in my position coming back to the game. Most of all I'd say it kind of broke my purely mechanical goals with regard to what my character was doing and I ended up with Ramensky having some sort of indignant heroic aim to annoy as many of the gods as possible which informed a lot of my act 3 and 4 conversations. As above, felt Maneha was a little underwhelming but it was fun dabbling with some of the new Barbarian stuff and completing her quest before dropping off in the Dyrford blood pool. Will I play it again? - I don't know. Maybe will try some sort of sub-POTD solo, low kills, low rests run but Triple Crown stuff is just not realistic for me in terms of time investment. It's a huge game and having done a legitimately complete run, I think that's probably enough for me. Suspect either my first run of Tyranny or a Deadfire followup run are next on the list once I've recharged a bit and done something productive. Over-review review overview – very good game, much improved by the expansions, some problems that seem very easy to fix retrospectively and some that seem unsolvable within the game's framework and objectives.
  6. While I think the first game's systems did differentiate different caster types better, resting in POE1 simply doesn't impact on challenge or difficulty unless you houserule it or you can't be bothered to pay the time tax. If you wanted to go into every non-trivial fight with all your stuff , you certainly could. As with many other things, I hope the Magran's Trials stuff that's upcoming will offer some such options.
  7. Could you name me one BG2 encounter that requires metaknowledge? I don't think there are any. But then, our definition of metaknowledge might differ. When I first played the game, Kangaxx gave me the most trouble, and indeed I couldn't beat him until I remember those two Protection From Magic scrolls on sale at the Adventurers' Mart. I have subsequently come up with other strategies. Kangaxx is a good example. I think extremely few players beat him on their first try. Losing a fight does not mean it requires meta knowledge. That is called difficulty. You don't lose to Kangaxx because of difficulty, though. You lose because he has enormously specific instant death abilities that you need to know about before he casts them which can only be countered with very specific things. It's not actually hard to cast Protection from Abjuration and Death Ward or Berserk and Death Ward and hit him with a +4 weapon, you just have no reasonable way of knowing you need to do that unless you've died to it or you've read a wallkthrough. That is meta knowledge. I agree that this can be seen as a problem. But it's not as if PoE doesn't have the same kind of things, at least to a certain extent. For example, my first encounter with the Alpine Dragon (which turned out to be by far the most difficult enemy for me) left me extremely disappointed with the makers of the game. We met. We talked. I tried to persuade him to let things progress peacefully but failed (I have subsequently learned that it is also possible to succeed in this). So, a fight began. And that's when the game suddenly cheated, big time. A moment earlier, I was in a cave with a dragon. But all of a sudden, the place was also full of various spirits. Who summoned them? Not the dragon. How did they end up there? How could they know when to arrive? There's no rationale to any of this, it was just blatant cheating from the game makers, and I was disappointed. There's sort of a vague rationale in that this dragon has this collecting all his soulmates thing but I do agree with you that this felt cheap and a little inexplicable. That said, it's the sort of cheap where you don't instantly have to reload because you didn't happen to have the right spells precast for the combat so it is a lot less pronounced. "What people are calling "metaknowledge" here in most cases is just "knowledge". Using the shield of Balduran to beat beholders is something your characters in the game would know. The shield is sold in a freaking shop where you can read the item description. You're told about the existence of Beholders in the Unseeing Eye quest (and even fight a little one) before you have to descend into the pit to fight all of them. Kangaxx is undead and you know this before you have to fight him. There are scrolls of protection from undead. Hell, even loading a bunch of traps in his room isn't outlandish from your characters' point of view. This is something your characters would do if they were actually adventuring in a way where their lives were on the line. None of this stuff has to break immersion or be considered some knowledge outside of the game world." Apologies for the lack of formatting-fu on my part. The meta-knowledge part is that there's one item available from basically the start of the game that completely trivialises an otherwise very dangerous recurring enemy (said item was not in the game's original release but added later, incidentally). How would your characters happen to know that such an item and exactly one such item exists? It is *completely* different fighting beholders with and without it. On Kangaxx... traps would just go on his first form anyway unless you were aware in advance that there would be a second. If you're not using full party protection from undead scrolls to cheese every lich (and a lich not casting any spells because of a 750 gold scroll is a little immersion-breaking anyway), I can't see how you could conceivably beat Kangaxx on the first attempt, not because he's hard but because the demilich form will instantly kill you if you don't know it's coming. The point isn't that having meta-knowledge be this influential is bad (it's still a very common principle in roguelikes and semi-procedural strategy games) but that it's understandable that the POE games didn't want design space where you get instantly one-shot because you didn't know an enemy could do something or where one specific item will single-handedly render an area irrelevant.
  8. Could you name me one BG2 encounter that requires metaknowledge? I don't think there are any. But then, our definition of metaknowledge might differ. When I first played the game, Kangaxx gave me the most trouble, and indeed I couldn't beat him until I remember those two Protection From Magic scrolls on sale at the Adventurers' Mart. I have subsequently come up with other strategies. Kangaxx is a good example. I think extremely few players beat him on their first try. Losing a fight does not mean it requires meta knowledge. That is called difficulty. You don't lose to Kangaxx because of difficulty, though. You lose because he has enormously specific instant death abilities that you need to know about before he casts them which can only be countered with very specific things. It's not actually hard to cast Protection from Abjuration and Death Ward or Berserk and Death Ward and hit him with a +4 weapon, you just have no reasonable way of knowing you need to do that unless you've died to it or you've read a wallkthrough. That is meta knowledge.
  9. Could you name me one BG2 encounter that requires metaknowledge? I don't think there are any. But then, our definition of metaknowledge might differ. When I first played the game, Kangaxx gave me the most trouble, and indeed I couldn't beat him until I remember those two Protection From Magic scrolls on sale at the Adventurers' Mart. I have subsequently come up with other strategies. Kangaxx is the one where I'd say noone could ever realistically beat him on a first try without knowing exactly what's coming. Otherwise there's a huge amount of encounter-specific metaknowledge that makes the game far easier (e.g. you want a +3 weapon ideally with reach before doing the De Arnise keep so you can kill the Iron Golem, the fact there's one specific magic shield that trivialises otherwise enormously frustrating beholders, the fact that Shadow Dragon's big thing is level drain and you can bait out his death spell with summons while he's not hostile etc etc). Not a bad thing but understandably something that later games in the genre have been hesitant to copy. "If Deadfire combat is more simplistic than BG Then you must have been playing a completely different game. I dunno what to tell you." It is, in many respects. Combat is a binary state in the POE games, so you don't have prebuffing and/or summoning and combat arenas are discrete, you can't combine stealth and traps in the same way with combat. BG2 has far more specific interactions than Deadfire and a much deeper pool of spells and effects. Ammo has been simplified/removed. Obviously certain systems have been made more complex and less discrete but as BG2 was happier for you to fail miserably and happier for you to break the game with shenanigans, it could afford some additional complexity that the POE series very reasonably doesn't want to get into.
  10. I think Deadfire's is better. The big deciding factor for me isn't spellcasters, which were a little better balanced against each other in POE 1, but 1/rest and 2/rest (finishing blow, some barbarian stuff etc etc) abilities on other characters just felt awful.
  11. Frankly, I barely remember Mazzy; other than "some variation on standard paladin character template", she barely left an imprint on my memory in that regard. But this is rather my point, this applies to most of the characters in the BG series. To me they felt as just that, variations on stock characters and tropes. There is never any sense that there is an actual personality to them; motivations, quirks, likes, dislikes. Whereas in the PoE series, by and large, it feels to me like there is. Through their interactions with each other and the main character, their interjections during story events, their overall tone. Which applies to non-companion NPCs as well, actually. Metaphysics aside, the PoE world in many respects simply comes across as more realistic and believable. It's of course less of an over the top fantasy setting of course, and doesn't have nonsensical alignment systems (which very much feels like in BG is part of the problem with characterisation), though that in itself isn't a deciding factor given that Planescape: Torment also had actually memorable characters with depth to them as well. I think Planescape: Torment has absolutely the best companions in any game ever. For POE my feeling was that companions were designed on a slightly more sophisticated version of the Bioware template (must have a connection to the game's theme, must have a personal quest that is conveniently resolved in act 3, must have some major decision you can make to alter their personality) and the greater realism really makes it much more puzzling when characters aren't reacting to things they really should and when the characters are designed to rather obvious specifications. Avellone's characters are great but don't really fit the world or the mechanics in the way that the PST characters did.
  12. It's not, Fallout was better even back when BG came out. #FalloutForLife THIS. BG was a fine adaptation of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition but it was never in the same league as Fallout 1 as a computer RPG. The redeeming feature when it came to BG was summed up in the Nietzsche quote i.e. that it was the Evil within and not the evil(s) without that really mattered. Other than that it was a rather by the numbers AD&D2 experience (which isn't a bad thing mind you) but certainly nothing to be raving about twenty years later if you had any experience playing pen and paper RPGs back in the 90s. With that being said I've been replaying BG while waiting for Deadfire to reach its full potential and it does bring back memories but it's certainly not flawless (if anything I'm enjoying it because of some of its quirks). What I really don't get is people who are putting The Witcher 3 on the same level though because that game is a glorified adventure game and doesn't provide much in the way of actual roleplaying. It's certainly not a bad game but despite some great atmosphere it has some pretty mediocre combat and some terrible level gating that (unfortunately) seems to become the norm in open world games. They could have gone without any levelling at all and the game would have been much better for it if you ask me but I guess they really wanted that RPG tag on their game. Comparing a third person consolised game like the Witcher 3 to some isometric CRPGs like BG and PoE seems a bit off to me but I don't expect most people to agree. While I think Fallout was brilliant (though Fallout 2 is really overestimated imo), it had significant problems of its own (probably the biggest offender is that the perk system was just dire - half the perks were basically irrelevant fluff, one or two were utterly gamebreaking but you were more or less obliged to build for them from character creation). Agree that BG2 isn't flawless and it certainly isn't as groundbreaking as Fallout or Planescape Torment were but I do think it's more replayable and fulfills its ambitions better than either of those and better than anything since, really.
  13. I think BG2 represents a particularly serendipitous mixture of timing and execution. Obviously it's inherently harder to make many big areas for a game like POE than for IE games, expectations in certain areas have become either counterproductively high (e.g. companions, reactivity) or somewhat limiting (the whole open world business makes it very hard to do extensive cutaways like Spellhold + Underdark, which feels essential to the pacing of BG2 and really vastly improves the replayability, players understandably don't go in for instant death effects these days). That said, BG2 did phenomenally well with its tone, the story is functional, has a reasonable scope and instilled an impression of urgency that's very rarely been matched (the original Fallout, perhaps? but in that case the urgency was real), I think it's got the best itemisation of any game in the genre, which is hugely important. Its maps and encounters were well-designed and varied, it pushed the boundaries of the CRPG in positive and logical ways. I don't think any general-purpose RPG since has proved equal to it. To return to Deadfire - I think it is the best setting for an RPG since PST. I do feel like it's set preposterous expectations for itself in some respects, there were obviously difficulty issues on launch and I don't really think that 'isn't the single best game in its genre' is any more meaningful a criticism for Deadfire than it is for every shooter that isn't Half-Life 2.
  14. "I want a great damage dealer than can disable vital targets in a fight who wont blow up and I'm playing on normal difficulty. My new attributes are 16 8 18 18 10 8. If moon godlike isn't optimal what is the optimal rogue race?" I think on Normal you should be absolutely fine with that and Moon Godlike would work well and be fun. I think the minmax choice is probably something like Hearth Orlan for a melee rogue for the extra crits. I'd throw a few points of Per into Resolve or Con for a frontliner but that's just me. As always in POE, stats are a trade-off.
  15. What sort of thing do you want your rogue to do and on what difficulty? Personally I'd maybe drop a few points of PER for something else (Might, Resolve, maybe even Con, depending on how frontliney you want to go - if you're going Moon Godlike I'd probably put it into Might so you're leveraging the racial bonus a bit more) because your accuracy should be good enough to hit anything anyway and if you're attacking disabled targets, which is essential for rogues, they should be debuffed to the point where 3-4 accuracy is not that big a deal. Lore is counter-intuitively very good for rogues/rangers because the scrolls counteract many of their weaknesses (no AOE, few options to target Will/Reflex) and they work well with high might, high accuracy characters. Sabres/Ruffian proficiency is great for rogues for several reasons (pistol/blunderbuss can give you superb burst to start a fight, Sabres are good, Stilettos are good, you have a blunt option if needed and there's a great club with the Deadfire pack). Moon godlike is not 'optimal' but it contributes something and should be fine.
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